How to hack the media with Inc42 founder Pooja Sareen

How to hack the media with Inc42 founder Pooja Sareen

February 12, 2016 by Anna O'Hare

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The SURGE Startup Series offers weekly tips for startups. Last week we teamed up with Nic Brisbourne, Partner at Forward Partners, to bring you our advice on approaching investors. This week, we reached out to Inc42’s Pooja Sareen for her tips on how to hack the media.

Ever scroll through the pages of YourStory and think:

“Why do these startups get all the attention? Why isn’t my startup’s story getting told?”

Sometimes it can feel like your startup is being ignored. No matter how many press releases you send or tweets you share, you just can’t seem to get noticed by the media.

Getting your startup in the press is no easy task. This is why we’re presenting to you this guide to hacking the media. Pooja Sareen, Co-founder of Inc42, joined our Head of Comms Mike Harvey in this hangout.

If you don’t have a chance to watch the hangout above, here are the key takeaways:

“Tell a rounded, human story”

Naturally, you’ll be eager to put your best foot forward when representing your startup. You want to present your startup as the perfect business in your niche. You may even be tempted to ask a PR person to do all media interviews. But when you’re this cautious with the media, your startup will seem bland in the eyes of the journalist.

Pooja spoke of how some founders refuse to talk to a journalist, simply pointing them to their PR person. This tactic doesn’t go down well, and won’t get you the media exposure you’re after. “If we ask the founder something they should be humble enough to answer back,” said Pooja.

Don’t hide behind your PR person or shy away from sharing the human element of your startup. Instead, as Mike said “try to tell a rounded, human story” of your startup to capture the attention of the media.

“Put yourself in the perspective of the journalist”

When writing a press release remember that the journalist is on the look out for newsworthy startups. They’re looking for something new and exciting to share with their audience. Whether it’s a new life-changing product or a huge funding round, make sure your press release is based around something exciting.

Furthermore, remember when you bump into a journalist at an event like SURGE, you could be the hundredth person they’ve spoken to that day. Everyone wants their story told but the journalist can only tell a limited number of stories.

Bear this in mind and adjust your expectations accordingly. You’re not guaranteed to get attention from the media and so shouldn’t set your heart on it.

“Be friends with media”

If there was one key to hacking the media, it would be to focus on relationship building first. Meet journalists for a casual chat and drop the agenda. Just have a conversation and make a friend.

Relationship building is especially important if you don’t have a compelling story right now. You might not make the papers tomorrow, but if you have a good relationship with journalists you can bet that your time in the spotlight will come.

Make connections with journalists, startups and even speakers. Download the SURGE app.

About the Author

Anna O'Hare
Anna is a storyteller at heart and is particularly passionate about telling the stories of startups. After returning from a year working in New York City's tech sector, she now writes for Collision, Web Summit, RISE and SURGE.